AN INDEX-JOURNAL SPECIAL REPORT
Parents slam District 52
Negligence, adversarial approach for special-needs services alleged
Saturday, May 10, 2014 1:09 AM
Timmy Cogburn loves popcorn. Not just for movies or as an occasional snack. His parents, Angie and John Cogburn, said Timmy, their youngest boy, likes few things better than a big bowl of popcorn after school.
Timmy Cogburn, son of Angie and John Cogburn, gazes out the window while playing at his parents’ home in Ninety Six. (MADDY JONES | INDEX-JOURNAL)
As his 7-year-old hands dart into the stainless steel bowl repeatedly, it’s clear Timmy’s parents are not exaggerating. But Timmy himself would have difficulty expressing his love of popcorn.
Or why sometimes his hands strike his mother.
Timmy is on the autism spectrum. His exact diagnosis is moderate-to-mild autism spectrum disorder with developmental delays. His symptoms manifest as, among others, a severe difficulty with verbal communication: In some instances he will stop talking for months at a time. Timmy, according to his Individualized Education Program, said his expressive language skills are in the 17- to 20-month level.
The Cogburns have been outspoken advocates for their son and autism awareness. While April was Autism Awareness Month, the Cogburns said they can’t focus their efforts on one month.
“Every month is Autism Awareness Month in our house,” Angie Cogburn said. “We don’t get a day off.”
Like all parents, the Cogburns look to their local school district for support -- not just in educating their child, but also dozens of other special needs students -- to combat the very real threat of developmental backslides.
But Ninety Six School District 52 for them is more often a source of frustration and conflict than confidence. The Cogburns, along with other parents of special needs students, recently spoke of their frustrations with District 52.
“I’d give them a four or a five (on a 10-point scale),” Angie Cogburn said of the school district. “Everything is a fight. When you sit down with them, it’s more of an ‘us versus them,’ adversarial relationship.”
A FULL REPORT IN TODAY'S INDEX-JOURNAL